Friday, October 14, 2016

Sweater Woes and Triumphs


One of my personal knitting goals this year was to knit a full-size sweater, so I recently knit a sweater for myself. I needed a success after so many failed sweaters and not-quite-right sweaters. Most of the sweaters that don't work are those I intend to keep for myself--at least I think the sweaters I've sent to other people are successful and fit well.

I tried knitting two sweaters from Knit One Crochet Two's Cozette, which creates a tissue-tee type fabric. That fabric was completely and utterly wrong for Element, which I couldn't admit to myself until I had knit the whole thing. The first sweater was a plain Custom Fit sweater that I frogged after knitting the back because I had measured myself incorrectly. It would have been okay if I'd wanted a crop top. The yarn isn't delicate, but I hesitate to rip and try again. If I do, I want to knit a pattern intended for the yarn. I think it will be a really nice sweater.

I tried to make Tiny Rocky Coast again and again. It wasn't an adult-sized sweater, but I just couldn't get it right. I messed up the increases on the yoke, then I screwed up the cable pattern. When I couldn't get the cables right a third time, I just gave up. The recipient wouldn't have fit into that size anymore anyway.



Since 2008 I have knit 48 sweaters and tops. Of those, I've frogged 9 adult sweaters, one kid's sweater, one baby sweater, and one baby dress (turned into cowl). I also gave a sweater to a 7 year old that I had made following the adult small size. Plus I've donated three sweaters and have given away two sweaters meant for me. The last sweater I made for myself that fit was finished in 2011.

So you see why I needed a success. And success it was. I love this sweater! I was nervous because I'm not very skilled at substituting yarns, and I was coming off the major fail that was Element. Using the Cestari Old Dominion Cotton for the Clarke Pullover by Jane Richmond was perfect. I wasn't getting gauge, so I did the "knit a size bigger" trick, and it worked! I probably should have used a smaller needle on the ribbing, but I'm so happy with this that I don't care if the collar looks stretched out. The pattern was well-written and worked well with the cotton. I've even gotten compliments from strangers!


I like knitting this so much I considered making another one, but I didn't have enough of the yarn. I may break down and purchase some more of that cotton. It didn't hurt my hands, and the knitting moves along quickly, even though it's listed as a DK.

So now I want more sweaters of my own. I am working on Woodstove Season by Alicia Plummer. The yarn I'm using is from a frogged sweater, so it has some weak points. It has a little bit more drape than a wool would, and the collar is somewhat floppier than I'd like, but I think it's working out. Believe me, I've learned my lesson about knitting through the end when I know it's wrong.

I have some other cotton and non-wool yarns in sweater amounts, so don't be surprised if you see more sweaters for me on my projects page. Maybe I'll even try using the Cozette again. And don't expect many knitting presents either, because I'm quickly turning into a selfish knitter!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Repurposed

A couple of weekends ago it rained, which this sun averse girl loved, but it meant we didn't spend the days walking around the city, as is our weekend habit. I had been thinking about a couple of sweaters that I had intended to adjust or reknit and decided to pull them out. I ended up discovering five sweaters and a bunch of yarn that I had never entered into my Ravelry database. So I spent the better part of a Sunday taking photos and entering specs into Ravelry. The best part of that project, however, was unraveling three of those sweaters. One sweater is still slated for alterations, since it's just tightening the (short) sleeves. The other sweater was knit in Rowan Felted Tweed, and I had terrible allergic reactions when winding it up. I think it had been sitting in a bin for too long and was full of dust and dander. I'm also allergic to wool, so having all that flying about in the air wasn't so good for my lungs and eyes.

Ready for reclamation (except the brown sweater--that was banished)
In the end, I unraveled three full sweaters, three partial sweaters, a sock, a pair of fingerless gloves, and a toy. I gained more than 5,000 yards from ripping out all those unfinished projects. I also added 1,500 yards or so from balls of yarn I found in the same box. Most of that yarn was leftover from projects I'd made before Ravelry, but not all of it. I found some lovely Blue Sky Alpacas Melange that will probably be used very soon. I also discovered a giant (approximately 2,496 yards) cone of weaving cotton that I bought way before I knew anything about yarn. We won't talk about that. All in all, it was quite the cathartic way to spend a couple of rainy days. You didn't think I could unravel all that in one sitting did you? There was so much picking! Undoing seams is a pain. The actual unraveling though? Pleasant and even a little exciting. It was like getting new yarn!

A portion of the reclaimed yarn. All that gray is from one sweater.
Here's some unraveling to mesmerize you. Just don't notice the stain on the carpet!




Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Fun House Mirror of Life

I am typically a one-project-at-a-time kind of knitter (and reader--I have a theory about knitting and reading, for another time), but I currently have three WIPs. How did this happen? I blame it on blocking.

I made a five-pointed star stuffed toy out of Mission Falls 1824 cotton. I would have sewn up the two halves immediately, but the bumpy texture of the cotton made it hard to see the bars between stitches. So I blocked it.

In the meanwhile I started a Zig with some Berroco Boboli Lace that Brian's mom gave me for Christmas. The instructions said to block the brim. So I blocked it.

So I started a Cuppa Tea Cowl with some leftover Wool Dispensary yarn (I miss your yarn, Sam!). Of course now I just want to work on that. Forget seaming or picking up stitches: I've got cables and lace to knit.

In reference to my last post, this multiple-project phenomenon seems to be mirroring my working life. I've been doing contract work through TaskRabbit and had a short task last night; I've been doing some contract admin for a friend's cousin's company; and I have a 4-hour temp job on Friday. Just like the knitting, I'm enjoying all these projects and can't wait for more. Maybe once I get a full-time job I'll feel like knitting a sweater.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Life Reflected in Art

The following is going to sound like a long whine, but it's not--or not quite. I have been thinking about how my frustrations about my job situation seem to be showing up in my knitting. You'd think I'd have more time to be careful about every stitch, and I am taking more time with some things, but I have this unfounded sense of urgency with knitting that I don't often have. So I'm explorring a correlation here, and it sounds like a whine because I'm correlating mistakes with frustration. Ah. Maybe it is a whine. Stop reading if you're not in the mood--I don't blame you.

Lately it seems that there are mistakes in everything I've been making. I put aside and plan to frog a sweater that I re-knit at least twice because I just couldn't seem to get it right. I re-knit a baby sweater because I held stitches for armholes too early, making them too small. I knit a stranded pattern and didn't realize my stitch count was off until I was attaching the pom pom.

Sunnyside Cardigan

There are small mistakes, too, like forgetting to do a jogless stripe or wonky bobbles. There are fudges, like settling for a stripe two rows shorter than the other stripes because I ran out of yarn, or letting the first mis-crossed cable go since I didn't notice it until many cables in (see baby sweater above).

Astrea Hat
Some mistakes I don't understand. I have one legwarmer that is shorter than the other, even though the row counts are the same. There's a hat that is a bit snug even though my gauge was spot on.

Legwarmers (maybe better as armwarmers?)
In nearly every project I have to make some sort of correction because I've made a mistake. It might just be tinking back a bit because I knit when I should have purled, but I am frequently making mistakes.

I started thinking about how all these mistakes create frustrations that I mostly either have to live with or fix, and how that's similar to what's happening in my life--at least as far as working goes. I have been unemployed for 8 months. I have applied for many jobs that seemed like a good fit, and I've gone on a few interviews. But I haven't been hired. There was one interview in which I completely misread the interviewers (I swear one of them was about to tell me I was the perfect candidate before she was cut off) but didn't score high enough to pass to the next round. I've had a lot of "your resume looks great, but it's just not a good fit." Mostly I've had a lot of radio silence.

I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. Why can't I get my stitch counts right? What is missing from my resume or my responses that is preventing me from getting the job? I am a good knitter--expert, even. I have 16 years experience knitting. I also have 16 years experience as a folklorist. I have worked all the right folklore jobs (at a state agency, on a major festival, and independently), and I love what I do.

Why do I keep making mistakes? Why can't I get the job?

This one may have been error-free! Rikke Hat
Of course there are successes. I have done a couple jobs through TaskRabbit and get excellent reviews and a little buffer in the bank account. I have successful projects, like the very simple Rikke hat shown above. Those make me feel good, of course, and remind me that I am competent both at work and at knitting. But I'm still not in a full-time job. I'm still working on a project that I've already fudged and whose colors I don't really like. I'm still applying for jobs and listening to the crickets that follow.

Have you experienced your knitting or other crafting or art-making reflecting your life? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Calming Effects of Yarn

I was semi-voluntarily laid off last June. I have applied to so many jobs since then, and I've even had numerous interviews. But no offers. My unemployment benefits have been exhausted. I never expected to be unemployed for more than 6 months.  Emotions are running high right now.

A Verb for Keeping Warm Pioneer
I'm angry at anyone who thinks someone who is unemployed can just "go get a job" but is too lazy because they are getting "handouts." I am frustrated that I've spent a lot of money and time getting to where I am in my career but now I can't get hired, despite that Master's degree and 15 years of experience. I'm scared about whether I can manage to extend my savings to cover more than two more months. I'm disappointed in myself for not managing my money better. I'm confused about what I can do to improve my chances of getting a job. I'm dreading the thought of going back into a minimum-wage job (especially in this very expensive city) like retail (is this what my degree was for?). The strongest emotion I feel right now, however, is thankful to have a partner who will support me during this hard time. I can't imagine having to face this alone.

November Leaves
A couple weeks ago I was struggling with my emotions after reading up on current events. The situation in Oregon at the wildlife refuge has upset me beyond reason. It has highlighted some deep philosophical differences between me and some of the people I care deeply about, and that realization has knocked me over with sadness.

Simple House Slippers (for me!)
One thing that has kept me from sinking into a dark place has been pictures of yarn. I was reeling from the news (just general news, not anything in particular) when I took a break to scroll through Instagram. The first two pictures were of handspun yarn. All my stress melted away. I'd never felt something like that--a visceral calm from looking at a picture. Since then I've tried to temper my news reading with pictures of yarn. I have been trying to stop myself from compulsively checking Facebook and Twitter, since so much of what is posted there is news about whatever terrible thing is happening (and where I see the opinions of people I care about but don't agree with, which is something that has been hurting me lately. I just haven't been able to let that roll off my back like usual).

A Verb for Keeping Warm Flock (the yarn is much bluer in real life)
I would like to follow more people who post beautiful pictures of yarn, so if you have suggestions, please let me know. Instagram is a much happier place than other social media sites. Nearly every picture is of children I care about, cats, or knitting related. Not a bad place to live right now. Find me there at everywhereknitting.

Tartara